Thursday, October 20, 2011

Golden Age

Last night, Melissa and I went and saw the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris. I hadn't seen trailers for it, nor did I know anything about it before I went, aside from the cast list: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, and Marion Cotillard...

I should have known that it would be weird. Every Woody Allen film I've ever seen has been so strange. But I liked a lot about it. First, it's set in Paris and it has Parisian music. Second, it's basically about me. And third, the music and the fact that it had every prominent, artistic soul in Paris during the 1920s. The Fitzgerals, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Hemingway, etc. etc. etc. Most people I hadn't heard of before, or just vaguely remembered them from literature or humanities classes. I realized that I don't know enough about the time period, even though it has always been an interesting one for sure. There were a few allusions that admittedly went right over my head.

Why is it about me, you ask? Gil (Owen Wilson), the main character, is a writer that believes he was born too late. He idolizes the idea of Paris in the 1920s -- calling it the greatest time and place on earth; the Golden Age. His fiancé (Adams) is a spoiled brat who thinks that Gil is a romantic, and has little patience for his dreaming of the 20s. The movie takes an interesting twist, allowing Gil to get in to an old car from the 20s and attend some of the greatest parties of the time, intermingling and rubbing shoulders with the figures I've already mentioned. Gertrude Stein reads and critiques his novel in progress. He meets one of Picasso's mistresses, and she says that for her the 1890s Paris is the Golden Age, when the Moulin Rouge was up and running and people like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ruled the day. And magically, a carriage comes and picks her and Gil up and takes her to the Moulin Rouge, where Henri could be found, sketching away. (I read that he did the sketches for the advertisements for Moulin Rouge. Most artists thought it was beneath them to be doing mere posters, but Henri took it on and was given his own reserved spot.) A few others join them and those in the 1890s start talking about how the real Golden Age was during the Renaissance and how everything then was so dull.

Gil is hit with epiphany and begins ranting about how they don't have antibiotics and how he now understands that no one is really satisfied with their present; everyone romanticizes some different past, because the present is messy. It's a long spiel that I wish I had to quote, but since I don't...

*spoiler* Gil goes back in to his own time, still loving the 1920s in Paris, but out to make a future for himself in his present day. Adriana decides to stay in the Moulin Rouge. I just sat there and thought how amazing it would be to time travel! I think I could go back to my present if I had the opportunity to go and explore 1812 or 1912... or any other time period but my own. Maybe I wouldn't want to stay there -- after all, I'm pretty happy with modern medicines and tampons and stuff like that. But it's not possible to take a little joyride to the time period of my fantasy and walk around in it for a few nights in a row.

What's your Golden Age? Is it now?

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